06 March 2010

Central Ohio FNRA Reunites Friends

Years ago I served on the Central Ohio Friends of NRA committee, the group that plans that particular dinner and auction annually benefiting the NRA Foundation. Of course, competing priorities of work, personal life, etc. conflict over time and I stepped away from the committee.

There are some 25 or so such committees across Ohio, planning similar events. Of the funds raised, all of it is pooled, and half goes to NRA Foundation for national projects. The other half stays in Ohio to fund local projects such as improvements to club ranges, assist with JROTC projects, women's events like Women On Target, Refuse To Be A Victim seminars, youth events, and much more.

Interestingly, I had not been back to an event, held annually at Villa Milano in NE Columbus, in about four years. I was back for the first time this evening. I wasn't able to stay for dinner due to, you guessed it, competing family priorities. BUT I spent time during the "gathering" portion of the event (that's PC speak for "cocktail hour") catching up with old friends and acquaintances.

First to catch me was Kay Cornell, an educator who was out front helping attendees with pre-paid tickets. Her husband Mike, who was just inside the door, is the committee treasurer this year and pulling his hair out tracking it all. They are great people and officers at Pickaway County Sportsmen Inc. I have taught NRA classes with them both, and been honored to have been asked to help with Women On Target events their club has sponsored.

Brian Hoover, NRA rep for southern Ohio and I had a chance to catch up. We were bemoaning the relative "health" of the Eddie Eagle suit that is used in Ohio. It has seen better days. I told him that when a family member of mine portrayed Eddie this summer for an Ohio Waterfowlers outdoor event this summer, I recognized the suit right off. Specifically I recognized some of my duct tape repairs in the headpiece from five years ago. An old suit (hint hint to the NRA HQ folks who might be reading this).

Roger Antolik is a great guy, a personal coach by day and in his offtime is a leader in Four-H Shooting Sports in Ohio. He has coached many youths over the years and some of those kids have gone on to become champion shooting competitors in college and beyond. I was privileged on a couple of occasions in past years to be a speaker for the NRA Youth Education Summit (YES) Ohio conferences, because of an invitation by Roger and his wife, Sue. I spent some time with Jim Hughes, state senator from the 16th district, and we learned that we both are related to the outlaw Jesse James. Jokes flew around about our mutual relation and Jim's and my occupations as a an attorney, and a Realtor, respectively.

Two guys I see around my real estate office regularly came in tonight. Jack Kocka is a commercial lender, and Bob Deis is a real estate agent in my office. It was Jack's first time at an FNRA event and, sufficed to say, it is one he will always remember. I chatted with Craig Henderson, an insurance agent and member of the Central Ohio FNRA committee about insurance, duck hunting and real estate. Ken Hanson, a Central Ohio attorney and legislative liaison with Buckeye Firearms Association, and I chatted about upcoming bills coming before the Ohio General Assembly regarding car carry and restaurant carry. Important news is soon to come and I will be writing about these issues in the coming weeks.

Seeing as how I live just a few miles from the main campus of The Ohio State University, I used to stop in all the time to visit with Pat Cherry, long-time coach of the OSU Rifle Team. I have gotten busier as the years have gone by and I was delighted to have a chance to visit with Pat this evening also. He's got a great crop of competitors, and super support from the university athletic department. Budget? Well, it's never enough but they plug on and shoot respectable scores, ranking among the best college shooting teams in the U.S.

Anker Bell, local attorney grabbed me. We had not seen each other in years either. He came through a class initially as an NRA Personal Protection In The Home student, and later came through an NRA Certified Instructors class I assisted in. He is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment and it was great to see him. In addition, I finally met Steve Nafzger, chairman of this year's COFNRA planning committee. We had only talked on the phone a few times, and exchanged emails. It was great to put a face with a name and voice.

Jesse and Teri Cyrus have long been the official printers for the COFNRA programs and they were there, as well. I had not talked to either in almost a year. And old friend Pam DeLile, who has been battling cancer after recovering from a devastating stroke several years ago was (like a trooper) working one of the raffle tables. Decked out in red, white and blue, Pam is more tired these days but she makes up for it in enthusiasm. We both remembered I owed her a phone call from a few months ago that I had forgotten to return. Shame on me.

Just before I headed out I was approached by David Yost, who arrived just as everyone was sitting down to dinner. Dave is a county prosecutor in Delaware County, is running for state auditor, and is an old friend. Before I got into real estate and he broke into public service, we both were journalists. We met in college at Ohio State, and later both worked at the now defunct Columbus Citizen-Journal, he as a staff writer for the city desk and I as a stringer/writer for the state desk. He's running a strong race for state auditor and as a former county auditor, before he became a county prosecutor, is highly qualified for the post. It was nice to just be able to catch up away from politics, away from discussions of the law, etc. He is a strong 2A supporter also.

Missing in action tonight were old friends who either have back pains or illnesses that kept them away, folks who had some of those competing priorities, another good guy who just lost his job so is watching his pennies rather than splurge on a benefit dinner (I don't blame him), friends who are going through rough times in their lives and just want to avoid others for a while, and others who are no longer on this Earth, and have gone before us in the fight for freedom.

Millions of dollars have been raised in this fashion all across the U.S. Millions have been raised in Ohio. For two years running I sat on the Ohio Committee that evaluated and funded projects. That was six or seven years ago. These were day-long affairs where people from all over the state sorted through projects of every shape and size, most of them grant worthy, and made very hard decisions about who would receive grants (and for how much), and who wouldn't.

The NRA Foundation's motto, or message, is a simple, yet powerful one: Teach Freedom. Tonight, a bit more money was raised to do just that. I wish I could have stayed. Coming back to visit friends I had not seen in years . . . it felt like I had never been away.

The FNRA event in Hebron, Ohio, near Buckeye Lake, is next Saturday evening. I hope to get out there and stay for dinner this time. Maybe I will see some of you out there.


Lynda C. said...

Hi Brent
My family was at the Friends of the NRA banquet last night in Columbus Ohio. We had a very nice time. I am wondering if there are any central Ohio Youth Clubs where our sons could get involved with the NRA youth program. Not sure if you can point us in the right direction, or maybe give us the name of someone local. Thanks! I will check your blog later this week.

Brent Greer said...

There are no true "youth clubs" per se dealing with NRA. But there are places where youth can get involved. There is a group tied in with 4-H Shooting Sports that meets in Columbus, forms teams and competes. We can talk about that offline. Also, there are some clubs around the state that conduct one-day NRA Youth Events, usually on weekends. One that I have been involved with in the past is the annual event at Pickaway County Sportsmen Inc. in Circleville. Drop me an email at: bgreer (at) pcreohio (dot) com and I will send you more information.